Brexit: Welsh Government split as minister calls for poll

By Arwyn Jones
BBC Wales political correspondent

Vaughan Gething
Image caption,
Vaughan Gething said the first minister had not indicated whether or not he would have to quit

A senior member of the Welsh Government has told BBC Wales that another referendum should be held on Brexit.

The stance of the Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, puts him at odds with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford.

On Tuesday, Mr Drakeford said a new referendum would inevitably be divisive and may not be decisive.

But Mr Gething said he wanted "the people to have that choice between the reality of leaving....and the potential to think again".

Mr Gething said that nearly three years after the UK voted for Brexit in a referendum "we know so much more" and "my personal view is the public deserve another opportunity to make that choice".

Earlier this year the Welsh Assembly, with Labour and Plaid support, passed a motion calling for work on a new poll to start immediately.

But the view of the Welsh Government is still that the UK Parliament should be given the opportunity to reach agreement on a deal before calling for another referendum.

Last week, BBC Wales reported there were splits within the Welsh Government's cabinet with a senior Labour source calling for more clarity from Mr Drakeford.

Responding to the story on Wednesday, Mr Gething said "there are different views - members of the government have different views on a whole range of things".

Image caption,
Mark Drakeford has warned a referendum would be divisive but might not be decisive

This weekend, thousands of people are expected to attend a march in London for a so-called People's Vote. Mr Gething confirmed he is sponsoring two buses to take people from south Wales to London.

"It is the biggest issue of our time, and you don't normally have government ministers going on marches," he said.

"But I'm going because I think it's the right thing to do."

'The first minister knows'

Mr Gething said the first minister knew of his intention to go on the march, but had not indicated whether or not he would have to resign his position as health minister.

"The first minister knows I'm going on the march," he said.

"He hasn't told me that that means I won't be in the government, he hasn't told me it's a wonderful thing or a dreadful thing. But he's aware, and I'm going."

In the assembly later, Brexiteer Conservative AM Darren Millar asked Brexit minister Jeremy Miles if he thinks a minister who defies the government's position ought to resign.

"Clearly the health minister may well want to organise buses but he's not on the same bus as the Welsh Government," Mr Millar said.

Mr Miles told Mr Millar: "There is no issue here. The first minister was very clear about government policy".


Plaid Cymru's Delyth Jewell praised Mr Gething "for his bravery and for willing to put his job on the line in order to stand up for what's best for Wales and for the whole of the UK".

She asked Mr Miles if he personally felt the health minister was right in calling for a second vote. He did not give a direct answer to the question, saying instead Mr Gething and Mr Drakeford had spoken about it.

Mr Gething stood against Mr Drakeford for the leadership of the Labour Party in Wales last year on a campaign which focused on a call for another Brexit referendum.

A spokesperson for the first minister said: "If the first minister believed Vaughan Gething's attendance on the march was inconsistent with him remaining a minister, he would have told him so directly."